The 14 Best Drugstore Bronzers of 2022—All Under $25

Our best overall is Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Bronzer has been around since before contouring was cool. Beyond providing an all-over sun-kissed glow, this makeup staple can be used to shade your forehead, define your jawline, make your cheekbones look more pronounced, or create the illusion of a longer neck. "I typically recommend applying bronzer first to frame the face, and then following up with blush and highlighter," says makeup artist Kristen Fortier.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer is undoubtedly the best drugstore bronzer out there today. The powder-to-cream formula diffuses your complexion with soft-focus pigments and blends seamlessly into a dewy sunlit glow. But if you prefer a matte, shimmer-free finish, NYX Matte Bronzer is a solid choice with plenty of pigment.

We have a soft spot in our hearts for drugstore brands—they were an introduction to makeup for many of us as adolescents. Not only that, but the most affordable options are arguably just as good as the top-shelf stuff, and they're widely available online and in pharmacies. So with that in mind, we conducted hours of research on the best drugstore bronzers. We tried some of the top-rated formulas out there. Our testers took note of finish, pigment, and how long the bronzer lasted. Our team then combined these results with our research of fan favorites plus makeup artist-recommended picks to create this list.

Scroll down for the best drugstore bronzers for a sun-kissed glow.

Best Overall: Physician’s Formula Murmuru Butter Bronzer

Physicians formula

Ulta

What We Like
  • Powder-to-cream formula

  • Soft-focus pigments

  • Blends easily

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

Physicians Formula has always reigned in the drugstore bronzer category, so it should be no surprise that it's our first-place pick. Murumuru Butter Bronzer is a powder formula, but as the name suggests, it melts into your skin like a soft cream and leaves a dewy finish in its wake.

This Byrdie editor favorite is available in six stunning shades to complement all skin tones. Sweep it on with a brush, a makeup sponge, or even just your fingers to accentuate, contour, and achieve the level of sun-kissed glow you desire. However you apply it, you can count on the soft-focus pigments to blend seamlessly.

Finish: Dewy | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: Rimmel Natural Bronzer

4.7
Rimmel Natural Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Waterproof

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Contains paraffin

  • Contains fragrance

Available in four flattering shades, this budget-friendly bronzer goes on smooth, blends effortlessly, and offers a semi-sheer natural finish. Want more color? The buildable formula can be layered for a deeper bronze effect. It's also waterproof and promises up to 10 hours of wear.

Finish: Natural | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Shimmery: CoverGirl TruBlend Minerals Bronzer

CoverGirl TruBlend Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Light-reflecting pigments

  • Subtle illumination

  • Silky texture

What We Don't Like
  • Only one shade

  • Contains BHT

If you like a little shimmer with your sun-kissed glow, this one's for you. CoverGirl TruBlend calls on ultra-fine, light-reflecting pigments to create an illuminating effect. The radiant finish is stunning yet subtle and not overly sparkly.

Finish: Radiant | Shades: 1 | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Illuminating: Revlon SkinLights Prismatic Bronzer

Revlon SkinLights Prismatic Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Silky texture

  • Crystal-like pigments

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • Contains BHT

Revlon SkinLights has a delightful 1980s glam vibe that is reminiscent of gold lamé and costume jewelry, but that's not all we love about it. This silky-soft highlighter contains crystal-like pigments that blend into your skin and create a warm, illuminating, multidimensional glow.

Finish: Radiant | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Matte: Nyx Professional Makeup Matte Bronzer

NYX Matte Bronzer

Ulta 

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Natural-looking color

What We Don't Like
  • Contains petrolatum

Prefer a matte finish? NYX has you covered. Use this shimmer-free powder to sculpt and define your best features, or dust it all over your face, neck, and décolletage for natural-looking sun-kissed color.

Finish: Matte | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

"A good trick is to apply a dusting of bronzer above your eyes as your eyeshadow base. This compliments the warmth of your cheeks and makes your complexion cohesive."Saffron Hughes, Makeup Artist

Best Baked: Milani Baked Bronzer

Milani Baked Bronzer

Milani

What We Like
  • Light-reflecting pigments

  • Enhances complexion

What We Don't Like
  • Not long-lasting

We're also big fans of Milani. Baked on terracotta tiles, this high-quality Italian bronzer contains a blend of skin-loving minerals and light-reflecting gold pigments that delivers healthy color and instant warmth.

Finish: Shimmery | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Mineral: Vasanti Cosmetics Mineral Bronzer

Vasanti Cosmetics Mineral Bronzer

Vasanti

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Enhances complexion

  • Natural-looking color

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey for drugstore

This mineral-rich bronzer from Vasanti first nourishes, then enhances your complexion with a natural-looking, straight-from-the-beach color. It comes in three versatile shades to complement a range of skin tones and leaves you with a no-makeup makeup look.

Finish: Natural | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Cream: e.l.f. Cosmetics Putty Bronzer

4.6
e.l.f. Cosmetics Putty Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Highly pigmented

  • Blends easily

  • Diverse shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Not long-lasting

Makeup artist Saffron Hughes says that those with dry skin may want to steer clear of powder formulas "in case it makes your skin drier or cakey." Whether your complexion is parched or you just find creams easier to blend, this putty-to-powder formula won't let you down. The highly pigmented bronzer comes in a diverse range of shades and blends beautifully without feeling greasy.

Finish: Semi-matte | Shades: 7 | Size: 0.4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best High-Pigment: Mented Cosmetics Bronzer

Mented cosmetics bronzer

Mented Cosmetics

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Blends easily

  • Diverse shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly messy

Available in four shades ranging from deep brown to medium toffee, this richly pigmented bronzer promises a big color payoff. If you're worried about a streaky look, fear not, because it's formulated to be both buildable and blendable.

Finish: Matte | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.35 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

"Apply in a '3' formation, starting at the forehead and temple, then sweep underneath the cheekbone, and drag down toward the jawline to create an effortless, sun-kissed look."Kristen Fortier, Makeup Artist

Best for Dark Skin Tones: Juvia's Place Bronzed Duo Bronzer

4.4
Juvia's Place Bronzed Duo Bronzer

Ulta

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Two-shade pan

  • Diverse shade range

What We Don’t Like
  • Nothing

Juvia's Place makes the best option for darker skin tones. This two-pan bronzer was a hit with our home tester, who used both matte shades to sculpt and define different areas of her face. You can also dust it all over for a sun-kissed effect.

Finish: Natural matte | Shades: 5 | Size: 0.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean:Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

“I loved the color that both shades in the Duo gave my skin; I had a soft matte glow, my cheeks looked sculpted, and my forehead had a really nice warmth and depth to it.”—Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best for Fair Skin: HAN Skincare Cosmetics Matte Bronzer

HAN Skincare Cosmetics Matte Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Nourishing

  • Blends easily

  • Natural-looking color

What We Don’t Like
  • Small amount

Han is a great option for fair-skinned folks. The Malibu shade of this matte bronzer is a cool-toned milk chocolate hue that complements very light and olive-toned complexions. Ibiza is slightly darker and warmer for those who want a bit more color.

Finish: Matte | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best With Brush: Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Pressed Bronzer

4.3
Physicians Formula Bronze Booster Pressed Bronzer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Travel-friendly

  • Great for contouring

  • Long-lasting

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains parabens

Our product tester raved about this pressed bronzer from Physicians Formula. She appreciated the nourishing formula, lightweight feel, and long-lasting glow. What's more, the mirrored compact comes with a mini brush that's perfect for contouring and on-the-go touch-ups.

Finish: Matte | Shades: 2 | Size: 3.04 oz | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

“This bronzer stayed on for over 10 hours without reapplying. Granted, I wasn’t shy about layering it, alas, but its performance rating is always an A+ for me.”—Michelle Rostamian, Product Tester

Best Stick: Undone Beauty Water Bronzer

Undone Beauty Water Bronzer

Ulta

What We Like
  • Blends easily

  • Buildable

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains PEGs

This pocket-sized contour stick is a go-to when you’re on the go, but the unique formula is where it stands out. Infused with coconut water and castor oil, the water-based cream melts into your skin and spreads like butter. The result? A sheer yet buildable wash of color and a dewy glow.

Finish: Dewy | Shades: 4 | Size: 0.2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Palette: Essence Sun Club Matt Bronzing Powder Palette

Essence Sun Club Matt Bronzing Powder Palette

Amazon

What We Like
  • Customizable color

  • Blends easily

  • Recommended by makeup artists

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains BHT

To create a custom bronze glow, consider using a palette that allows you to blend different shades for buildable coverage. This one contains four complementary shades and offers a matte finish.

Finish: Matte | Shades: 4 | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer, which feels luxe on skin and creates a radiant glow. The powder-to-cream formula diffuses your complexion with soft-focus pigments and blends seamlessly with a dewy finish. If you prefer a matte, shimmer-free finish, NYX Matte Bronzer is a solid choice with plenty of pigment.

Meet the Expert

  • Saffron Hughes is a makeup artist based in North Wales. She specializes in natural-looking contour techniques and glam looks using bronzer and highlighter.
  • Kristen Fortier is a professional makeup artist and lead product innovator for Crunchi Cosmetics.

What to Look for in a Drugstore Bronzer

Shade

Make sure you choose a bronzer shade that works well with your skin tone, to avoid looking orange or creating any harsh lines. Opt to find a bronzer shade that mimics your skin tone when you're tan—and try to make sure it's not too dark or too light. Make sure you check the undertones of the bronzer as well, as this can be crucial in finding the right one.

Texture

Do you tend to go for powder formulas or cream? Take what texture you love using into consideration before purchasing. Generally, creams tend to give off a more dewy finish, whereas powders are more matte. Both yield the same result but give off different appearances.

FAQ
  • What is the use of bronzer?

    Bronzer is typically used to help skin look sun-kissed or tan. Depending on the shade, it may also be used to contour.

  • Can you use bronzer to contour?

    If it's applied correctly, bronzer can be used as a contour. Rather than swiping the bronzer all over, hone in on specific areas (like beneath your cheekbones and around your jawlines and your nose) with an angled brush to contour.

  • What brush should you use for bronzer?

    Before you purchase a bronzer brush, take a moment to consider what you plan to use the bronzer for. For an all-over glow, use a fluffy powder brush to make sure you get even bronzer coverage—without any harsh lines or streakiness. If you're looking to use your bronzer to contour, opt for an angled brush.

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—such as ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie

Theresa Holland is a beauty commerce writer and cosmetics connoisseur who knows her way around the drugstore makeup aisle. She compiled expert recommendations and application tips from two makeup artists for this story and then searched high and low to find today's best affordable bronzers. She has personally tried a handful of products on this list, including Physicians Formula, CoverGirl, NYX, e.l.f., Milani, and Vasanti. Theresa covers color cosmetics, skincare, and wellness products at Byrdie.

Updated by Jill Di Donato

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